desolate

adjective
des·​o·​late | \ˈde-sə-lət, ˈde-zə-\

Definition of desolate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : devoid of inhabitants and visitors : deserted a desolate abandoned town

2 : joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful through or as if through separation from a loved one a desolate widow

3a : showing the effects of abandonment and neglect : dilapidated a desolate old house

b : barren, lifeless a desolate landscape

c : devoid of warmth, comfort, or hope : gloomy desolate memories

desolate

verb
des·​o·​late | \-ˌlāt \
desolated; desolating

Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make desolate:

a : to deprive of inhabitants The neighboring towns were desolated.

b : to lay waste desolating the city with bombs

c : forsake their desolated families back home

d : to make wretched

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from desolate

Adjective

desolately adverb
desolateness noun

Verb

desolater or desolator \ -​ˌlā-​tər \ noun
desolatingly \ -​ˌlā-​tiŋ-​lē \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for desolate

Adjective

alone, solitary, lonely, lonesome, lone, forlorn, desolate mean isolated from others. alone stresses the objective fact of being by oneself with slighter notion of emotional involvement than most of the remaining terms. everyone needs to be alone sometimes solitary may indicate isolation as a chosen course glorying in the calm of her solitary life but more often it suggests sadness and a sense of loss. left solitary by the death of his wife lonely adds to solitary a suggestion of longing for companionship. felt lonely and forsaken lonesome heightens the suggestion of sadness and poignancy. an only child often leads a lonesome life lone may replace lonely or lonesome but typically is as objective as alone. a lone robin pecking at the lawn forlorn stresses dejection, woe, and listlessness at separation from one held dear. a forlorn lost child desolate implies inconsolable grief at loss or bereavement. desolate after her brother's death

dismal, dreary, bleak, gloomy, cheerless, desolate mean devoid of cheer or comfort. dismal indicates extreme and utterly depressing gloominess. dismal weather dreary, often interchangeable with dismal, emphasizes discouragement resulting from sustained dullness or futility. a dreary job bleak suggests chill, dull, and barren characteristics that utterly dishearten. the bleak years of the depression gloomy often suggests lack of hope or promise. gloomy war news cheerless stresses absence of anything cheering. a drab and cheerless office desolate adds an element of utter remoteness or lack of human contact to any already disheartening aspect. a desolate outpost

What is the Word Origin of desolate?

Adjective

Something that is desolate is literally or figuratively "abandoned," so you probably won't be surprised to learn that "desolate" has its roots in the Latin verb desolare, meaning "to abandon." The Middle English word desolat comes from the past participle of "desolare," which in turn combines the prefix de- and the adjective solus, meaning "alone." "Desolate" is not at all alone in this family of words. Some other familiar descendants of "solus" include "solitary," "sole," "solo," "solitude," and "soliloquy."

Examples of desolate in a Sentence

Adjective

a desolate house abandoned many years ago destitute and desolate since her husband walked out on her

Verb

totally desolated the city with aerial bombs
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Poetically desolate in the winter months, come summer the house is teeming with characters. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Farm-Fresh Flowers and Lobster Rolls Aplenty: Marlo Laz’s Jeweler Gives Her Guide to Nantucket," 7 Sep. 2018 Without the blocks, the playground, also designed by Rockwell, can feel rather desolate, like a stage without players. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "How not to cheat children: Let them build their own playgrounds," 18 July 2018 The last Portals described how, starting in 1854, four cemeteries were installed in the then-desolate Lone Mountain area of the Inner Richmond District. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, "How San Francisco evicted thousands of dead people," 13 Apr. 2018 By adding lighting, stores, courtyards and residents to once-desolate blocks, Compass is helping West Farms turn a corner, said Robert D. Frost, a Signature comanaging member. New York Times, "West Farms, the Bronx: Flora, Fauna and Renewal," 13 June 2018 Three new buildings have been proposed for Detroit's Brush Park, a once-desolate neighborhood near Little Caesars Arena that is now buzzing with construction activity. Jc Reindl, Detroit Free Press, "Big buildings planned for Detroit's once-desolate Brush Park," 17 May 2018 Dooley estimated there are about 900 workers now employed at the Colt factory complex, helping to boost activity at the once desolate area. Kenneth R. Gosselin, courant.com, "Renovations Begin In Last Major Structure At Hartford's Colt Complex," 11 July 2018 By the early 20th century, Cerro Gordo had transformed into a desolate ghost town. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Historic California Ghost Town Is Up For Sale," 16 June 2018 More traditional photographs depict sites of mines with desolate beauty. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desolate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of desolate

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for desolate

Adjective

Middle English desolat, from Latin desolatus, past participle of desolare to abandon, from de- + solus alone

Verb

see desolate entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about desolate

Listen to Our Podcast about desolate

Statistics for desolate

Last Updated

21 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for desolate

The first known use of desolate was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for desolate

desolate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: lacking the people, plants, animals, etc., that make people feel welcome in a place

: very sad and lonely especially because someone you love has died or left

desolate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (someone) feel very sad and lonely for a long time

: to damage (a place) in such a way that it is no longer suitable for people to live in

desolate

adjective
des·​o·​late | \ˈde-sə-lət \

Kids Definition of desolate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having no comfort or companionship : lonely

2 : left neglected or in ruins a desolate old house

3 : without signs of life : barren a dry, desolate land

4 : cheerless, gloomy She put aside desolate thoughts.

Other Words from desolate

desolately adverb

desolate

verb
des·​o·​late | \ˈde-sə-ˌlāt \
desolated; desolating

Kids Definition of desolate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to ruin or leave without comfort or companionship

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on desolate

What made you want to look up desolate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

an inexhaustible supply or amount

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!